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Volume 8, No.1 May 2009

SMULLTALK T.J. Smull College of Engineering Alumni Newsletter

ONU Students Make Their Mark at NASA

IN THIS ISSUE: Reaching for the Stars at NASA Entrepreneurship in Action Alternative Energy Student/Faculty Highlights

A Message from the Dean of the College of Engineering

While the past year has been a tumultuous time for our country’s economic fortunes, hope springs eternal for our 2009 graduates of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern University. The graduates leave the ONU campus knowing that they have received a quality education and have been part of a rigorous, yet nurturing, educational environment that has prepared them well for whatever the world will throw at them. The faculty and staff of the College of Engineering wish them well with their future endeavors. In this edition of Smull Talk, we celebrate the many accomplishments of our students and focus on their successes in a number of areas. This includes contributions that our ONU students have made to the NASA community both at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Our students and faculty are also pursing a number of projects associated with alternative energy, including establishing the technical feasibility of bringing wind power to the ONU campus. Given that the main quad on campus is nicknamed “The Tundra,” the thought of using wind power to offset some of the University’s electrical usage does not sound that farfetched. The faculty and staff in the college were delighted to learn that the College of Engineering was ranked as one of the top 50 undergraduate engineering colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the ONU student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was ranked as the best chapter in Region 3 for the second year running and was considered one of the top six student chapters in the country. These rankings and other indicators of excellence speak to the accomplishments of a very strong faculty and student body within ONU’s College of Engineering. As spring begins to bloom on the ONU campus in Ada, I hope that you enjoy this edition of Smull Talk and celebrate with me the many fine efforts of our talented students and dedicated faculty.

Eric Baumgartner, Dean of the College of Engineering



table of


Campus Contacts

ONU STUDENTS make their mark on the space program PAGE


alumni spotlighT: DonALD campbell PAGE


alumni and continuing professional events PAGE


student and program accomplishments PAGE


entrepreneurship in action PAGE


focus on alternative energy PAGE


faculty highlights PAGE


Dr. Eric Baumgartner Dean of Engineering Voice: 419-772-2372 E-mail: Dr. Juliet Hurtig Assistant Dean for Admissions and Advising Voice: 419-772-2390 E-mail: Dr. Jonathan Smalley Chair, Civil Engineering Voice: 419-772-2377 E-mail: Dr. John Estell Chair, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science Voice: 419-772-2387 E-mail: Dr. John-David Yoder Chair, Mechanical Engineering Voice: 419-772-2385 E-mail:

SMULL TALK Publication of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering

ONU’s College of Engineering is ranked as one of the nation’s

at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio.

top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in U.S. News &


World Report, America’s Best Colleges (2009). Smull Talk


Artist’s conception of MSL rover

Eric Holbrook at JPL with test robot arm for the MSL mission

Reaching for the Stars at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory When Eric Holbrook, a junior mechanical engineering major from Wapakoneta, Ohio, was a kid looking up at the stars, he always wanted to go and check them out himself. He dreamed of working with the space program, although it seemed a long shot for someone who grew up in a small town in rural Ohio. In elementary school, he picked Neil Armstrong as his “Famous Ohioan” topic for a report. He began researching Armstrong’s life and was amazed that this Ohioan had done what Holbrook had always dreamed about. When Holbrook came to Ohio Northern University, he wasn’t exactly sure where life would take him, but he knew that he would receive the help he needed to get there. He wasn’t originally planning to participate in the co-op program, but looking back on his decision, Holbrook wouldn’t have done it any other way. It was this decision to co-op that led to his recent six-month assignment at the Caltech/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. Holbrook notes that prior to interviewing with JPL, he had other interviews with NASA, but none led to a position. In fact, he mentions that during one such interview, he wanted to make sure the person had the

most recent version of his résumé, and the response was, “I’m not sure; I have about four in my hand right now!” Determined not to give up, Holbrook kept applying. Finally, everything fell into place, and he was on his way to California. Regarding that first day at JPL, Holbrook comments, “It was slightly scary walking into work on my first day. I’ve had plenty of first days, but none compared to this. I wanted to do everything right and do a good job. Occasionally, I looked around the room at work, and I couldn’t help but smile. I was working with some of the smartest people in the world in a place where history is made on a regular basis.” During his co-op assignment from September 2008 through February 2009, Holbrook worked in the Planetary Sample Acquisition and Handling Group. While there, his main focus was the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), the next Mars rover scheduled for launch in 2011. Holbrook joined the MSL group during a very exciting time. He felt this co-op assignment challenged him in many ways: It called on him to use not only the analytical side of his engineering experience, but also the practical side – the actual implementation of ideas. At JPL, Holbrook worked with a number of varied tests, including structural testing of vibration isolators, hammer tap-tests and vibration “shaker” tests. He was able to apply many of the things that he learned at ONU, such as the experimental methods class he took last summer, to help him understand and instrument tests at JPL. Holbrook worked with the rover’s drilling and sample transfer platforms and set up tests that would replicate the systems for functionality and verification purposes. The most satisfying

parts of his job occurred when Holbrook had the opportunity to see something through from conception to completion. Planning tests, designing the rigs and hardware, setting everything up and running the tests all gave him satisfaction because of the time and effort that was invested. Setting up tests also lent itself to becoming familiar with things like environmental chambers, electrostatic discharge, cleanroom protocols and the safe way to handle hazardous materials such as cryogens. One of his tasks was to help certify an environmental chamber for future tests. This included characterizing the thermal environment in the chamber, understanding safety systems and fail-safes, determining the vacuum capabilities in a “dirty” environment, and establishing standard operating procedures based on the needs of future tests. “Everyone that I worked with became a huge contributor to my growth as an engineer. They were willing to push me as far as I could or wanted to go, but were always available and happy to help me along the way,” says Holbrook. In a way, he felt like he was in college. Problems were presented, solutions brainstormed, guidance given and something was learned on a daily basis. Holbrook felt his time at JPL was very beneficial and would highly recommend them as a co-op employer. His time in California helped him decide what he would like to do after graduation. “This is by far the best co-op rotation and job that I have had,” he says. “It has led me to believe that this facet of engineering is one that I could make a career out of and hope to continue to pursue. I have also gained a deeper appreciation for the problem-solving skills and design process that engineers use on a daily basis.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration John H. Glenn Research Center Lewis Field

ONU Engineer Hopes NASA Internship will ‘Launch’ her Career

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: DONALD CAMPBELL Since graduating from Ohio Northern University, Donald Campbell, BSME ’59, Hon. D. ’98, has led an accomplished career within the aerospace industry. It was a career that began at just the right time.

Ever since her father gave her a poster of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, Sharon Snyder has dreamed of becoming an astronaut. The senior mechanical engineering major may not be in the space shuttle, but Snyder’s 2008 summer internship brought her one step closer to her dream job. Snyder, who hails from Lancaster, Ohio, worked in the Turbo Machinery and Heat Transfer branch of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “For 10 weeks, I was paid to be a science nerd,” Snyder remarks. “Glenn is involved with aero propulsion, jet engines and engine cooling, so my job was very hands-on: experiments, testing, wind tunnels, liquid crystals and the latest software programs. I loved it.” Snyder was one of 120 interns chosen through NASA and the Ohio Aerospace Institute. “I actually applied to the program my freshman year, but I didn’t get in. In a way, that inspired me to try even harder,” she says. To bolster her résumé, she spent summer 2007 doing research at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. However, the NASA opportunity was always in the back of her mind. “When I got in, I was thrilled and very nervous,” she says. “I frantically tried to remember everything I’d learned in class.” Her summer felt like an engineering class come to life. “I took Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics last year, so I had a basic understanding of these concepts, but to actually apply them was great. Plus, I worked with one of the software programs that I will use this year in class.” To ease her into the job, Snyder was assigned two mentors who showed her the ropes and gave her real responsibilities. Her mentors weren’t the only ones helping her succeed. Glenn is a hotbed of Northern graduates like Jennifer Jordan, BSEE ’05, Kathryn Shaw, BSME ’06, and David Chelmins, BSCPE ’08. After seeing others from the same background, Snyder felt confident about her job possibilities after graduation. “Everyone dreams of going to space, but, realistically, only a handful of people can do that. Engineering is the next best option,” explains Snyder, who plans to return to NASA for summer 2009. She hopes, eventually, to secure a job with NASA following graduate school. “I’ve always known this is where I want to work, and I put myself into this internship wholeheartedly,” she says. “I’m amazed by what NASA has accomplished – the missions to Mars, walking on the moon. All these things are powered by brainpower and creativity, and I got to work there. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

“When I graduated from ONU,” Campbell says, “it was the dawn of the modern space age. To succeed in the new era required a sound basic engineering education, which I received at ONU.” After Northern, Campbell earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University before beginning a government career as a test engineer for gas turbine engines and engine components in the Air Force Aero Propulsion Laboratory at WrightPatterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Campbell then worked as a researcher, project engineer and a project manager for advanced air-breathing propulsion systems. In 1990, he was named director of the Aero Propulsion and Power Laboratory at WrightPatterson, where he was responsible for the Air Force’s propulsion and power research and development activities in the areas of gas turbine engines, ramjet engines, aerospace power systems, and fuels and lubricants. “My engineering education at ONU prepared me with engineering skills, logical reasoning and the ability to tackle technical challenges of aeronautics and space technology,” Campbell says. “My basic engineering background was a foundation for working on advanced




propulsion systems for both aeronautics and space applications.” In 1992, Campbell became director of science and technology within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he monitored and directed the Air Force’s science and technology programs and other selected research, development, technology and engineering programs. Campbell’s service to NASA began in January 1994 as director of the NASA Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the next 10 years, Campbell guided the Center through activities related to NASA Glenn’s core research and development efforts in aeronautical propulsion, space propulsion, space power, space communications and microgravity sciences in combustion and fluid physics.

ASCE Chapter Receives Governor’s Award for Second Year in a Row

“Engineering-based creative thinking helped me in managing major NASA space programs,” Campbell explains. “One of my most notable assignments was NASA center director for launch of the Cassini Spacecraft now orbiting Saturn.”

The Ohio Northern University chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

Campbell was appointed a special assistant to the NASA deputy administrator in October 2003 and retired from NASA in April 2004. Campbell currently serves as an aeronautical/aerospace consultant with a number of industrial and government organizations.

North Dakota.

Campbell continues to give back to ONU and the College of Engineering through his service on ONU’s Board of Trustees and the college’s Advisory Board. His breadth of experience provides outstanding insights into ways in which the institution can continue to grow in order to best serve its current students as well as future NASA engineers. “Current and future ONU grads have the educational background and skills needed to succeed in their fields of endeavor,” Campbell says confidently.

received the 2008 Region 3 Governor’s Award. The Governor’s Award recognizes the ONU chapter of ASCE as the best student chapter in the region, taking into consideration student activities, professional development and community outreach. Region 3 of the ASCE consists of college and university chapters from Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and

In addition to the Governor’s Award, the ONU ASCE chapter was named one of six national finalists for the 2008 Robert Ridgway award, which recognizes the best overall student chapter in the nation. This is the second consecutive year that the ONU chapter has won the Region 3 Governor’s Award and has been a finalist for the Robert Ridgway award.

T.J. Smull College of Engineering Ranked in Top 50 Ohio Northern University’s T.J. Smull College of Engineering is ranked as one of the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation according to “America’s Best Colleges 2009,” published annually by U.S. News & World Report. ONU tied for 38th place in a ranking of undergraduate engineering colleges that do not offer a doctoral degree program. Across the nation, there are approximately 175 engineering colleges in this category, and ONU is one of only two schools in Ohio ranked in the top 50. “The faculty and staff of the College of Engineering are extremely pleased with this recognition as we seek to achieve excellence in undergraduate engineering education,” said Dr. Eric T. Baumgartner, dean of the College of Engineering. “This ranking is based on a peer assessment of the quality of our programs, and it is rewarding to know that our peer institutions regard the college as one of the best in the nation.”

Don Campbell at his office at NASA

This marks the second consecutive year that ONU’s College of Engineering has cracked the top 50. In the 2007 rankings, ONU was ranked in a tie for 54th place and jumped to 47th place a year later.

Alumni and Continuing Professional Development Events Recently, the State Board of Registration for Engineers and Surveyors in Ohio joined many other states across the country in requiring its registered engineers to complete continuing education. From the Ohio Revised Code section 4733.151, “Each registrant for renewal for calendar year 2008 and thereafter shall have completed, within the preceding calendar year, at least 15 hours of continuing professional development for professional engineers and surveyors.”

The college is planning a weekend workshop for November 2009 at The Inn at Ohio Northern University in Ada. Planning is underway for this event, and it is anticipated that alumni or others will be able to complete 10-15 hours toward their

At the same time this change was happening statewide, ONU’s College of Engineering was looking for ways to reach out to alumni. When the college learned of the changes in the rules for professional engineers, it seemed logical to combine the educational mission of the college with its outreach efforts. To that end, the college began a program to provide educational opportunities in conjunction with networking events for engineering alumni. Initially, the events have been held in Ada and at other sites across Ohio.

licensure requirements.

Starting in 2007, the college has offered several one-hour seminars combined with networking receptions. The college hosted its first seminar in Lima, Ohio, in conjunction with the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE) annual conference. Dr. John-David Yoder, chair and associate professor of mechanical engineering at ONU, spoke on “Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship for Engineers.” Other events have included both alumni and faculty members as speakers:

whose mission is to assist ONU in the

“What is a Green Building?” by Michael Chow, BSEE ’92, P.E., of MetroCD Engineering, held in Columbus (November 2007) and Cleveland (February 2008) “Driving Rovers on Mars: Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Robotic Planetary Explorers” by Dr. Eric T. Baumgartner, dean of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering, held in Ada (ONU Homecoming, October 2008) “Solar Thermal Technologies” by Dr. David Sawyers Jr., P.E., assistant professor of mechanical engineering, held in Ada (January 2009) “Green Sites for Green Buildings” by Christopher Fleming, P.E., and Brian

Quackenbush, BSCE ’98, of EMH&T, held in Columbus (February 2009) “Medical Robotics: the Past, Present and Future of Robots Helping Doctors” by Dr. John-David Yoder, held in Cleveland (February 2009)

Additionally, under the leadership of Thomas Zechman, a visiting faculty member in the civil engineering department, the college assembled an advisory committee development of a quality training program for professional surveyors. Scheduled for spring 2010, this training program will be held on the ONU campus and will be offered to alumni and others who require professional development hours for their professional surveyors license. The college’s plan is to continue to offer continuing professional development seminars as part of its overall alumni outreach effort. If you have questions,

The annual Spotts Lecture: “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet” by Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith professor of astronomy at Cornell University and principal investigator of the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Project, held in Ada (March 2009)

are interested in hosting or speaking at an event, or have suggestions for a topic, please contact Laurie Laird, director of corporate and alumni relations for the college, at 419-772-2421 or

“Energy and the Environment: Issues and Trends” by John H. Hull, BSCE ’75, P.E., of Hull & Associates, held in Toledo (March 2009) Smull Talk


concrete canoe team captures first place The Ohio Northern University concrete canoe team captured first place in the American Society of Civil Engineers’ regional concrete canoe contest at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., April 2-4. The victory qualifies ONU to compete in the national competition in Tuscaloosa, Ala., June 11-13. The Polar Bear’s top finish marks the first time ONU has won the regional competition since participating in the event and broke a six-year winning streak by Michigan Tech. Other teams entered in the competition included Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, University of Michigan, University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University and the University of Toledo. ONU placed first overall by finishing first in the design paper and final product categories and second in the race competition. Dr. Farhad Reza, associate professor of civil engineering, served as the team’s advisor. “This event provides students with a practical application of the engineering principles they learn in the classroom, along with important team and project management skills they will need in their careers,” he said. “It challenges a student’s knowledge, creativity and stamina while showcasing the versatility and durability of concrete as a building material.” Known as the “The Green Monster,” ONU’s winning canoe incorporated several aspects of sustainability into the design. The ONU team incorporated environmentally friendly products when possible. For example, the team used 100 percent recyclable grass granulates as aggregates and recycled carpet as fiber reinforcements. Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) stains and sealers also were used. Cement was replaced by high contents of slag (waste material from the blast furnace production of iron), fly ash (byproduct from burning coal) and silica fume (byproduct from the manufacture of silicon). The canoe measured 20 feet in length, 31 inches at its widest point and 14-16 inches deep. Its total weight was approximately 200 pounds. Bradford Barber and Melinda Moser served as team captains. Other members of the team were Lee Saunders, Brooke Young, Tyler Bumbalough, Drew Richards, Luisa Chinchilla, Andrew Lucas, Paige Sechrist, Anna Santino, Adam Hamman, William Melton, Mary Purvis and Justin Stone.

Entrepreneurship in Action: Engineering Student Gets an Early Start in Business

Zach Ferres, a senior computer engineering major from Bellevue, Ohio, just wanted to earn a little extra money but ended up starting a business. In summer 2007, he created BounceHost in his hometown after landing some initial contracts. BounceHost provides a complete array of information technology solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. These solutions include IT consulting, point-of-sale, Web site development, custom software development, and 24/7 technical support packages. Today, Ferres has more than 40 active clients spanning seven counties in Ohio and is proud to say that he has never lost a client. In 2008, BounceHost had around $40,000 in net revenues, and Ferres looks forward to growing the business to around 100 clients before he graduates, at which time, he plans to commit himself full-time to the business. Ferres has relied solely on his own resources; no loans or investors have yet been needed, and all of the profits are returned to the business. The business has grown to the point where he employs two full-time and two part-time employees, including an ONU intern. BounceHost also is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which it operates. Currently, the firm is starting a computer-recycling program, BounceGreen. BounceGreen will obtain used and broken computer hardware, refurbish it, and then donate it to families in the community. BounceHost is also working with newspaper publishers and radio stations to facilitate the launch of BounceBlogs, which will provide a location for the public to ask IT questions. Even ONU has been a BounceHost customer. In 2007, BounceHost was contracted to assist in the implementation of the new University Web site, and currently it is working on a project for the Rudolph H. Raabe College of Pharmacy. Partially funded by Apotex Corporaton, this pharmacy project involves the development of a new community pharmacy simulation software package. The software will help prepare students for their eventual service in the profession of pharmacy by allowing them to practice retail pharmacy management operations in a simulated environment.

Civil Engineering Student Project Wins Engineering Design Competition “Design for a Swinging Bridge on the Buckeye Trail’s Miami and Erie Canal Towpath,” a senior capstone project by four ONU civil engineering students, won first prize in the 2009 Student Structural Design Competition, sponsored by the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The project was created by Christopher Shearer, BSCE ’08, of Strongsville, Ohio, and now a graduate student at Georgia Tech; Jameson George, BSCE ’08, from Chillicothe, Ohio, and now a law student at ONU; Nathan Smith, BSCE ’08 from Cleveland, Ohio; and Adam Ross, BSCE ’08, from West Chester, Ohio. Their faculty advisor was Dr. Farhad Reza. For the competition, students from across the country submitted a 12-page report on a capstone design project in structural engineering. No identification of the submitting university was allowed in the reports, leading to a blind review by experts in the field. The first prize includes a $1,000 check and publication of the report on the SEI Web site. The winners will present their project at the 2009 Structures Congress in Austin, Texas, and the award will be presented at the SEI/ ASCE awards luncheon.

Ferres has found his ONU education to be integral to his success, “I can’t describe in enough words how much Ohio Northern has helped me in starting my business. As far back as the freshman engineering classes, where we learned how to write proposals and work in teams to create new products, I have taken everything I can out of the classes. The skills learned in the programming classes have been absolutely essential for the software development sector of BounceHost.” He is also taking advantage of the new entrepreneurship minor offered in The James F. Dicke College of Business Administration. Ferres believes the entrepreneurship minor complements his computer engineering major perfectly, and the information gained through the entrepreneurial classes truly helped him realize his passion for being an entrepreneur. Most importantly, Ferres believes that ONU has taught him how to think and how to effectively interact with people, and ONU faculty, staff and alumni have all contributed to his success in various ways. It is certainly more than he could have ever hoped for when he first applied to ONU.

Structural analysis of bridge design

Smull Talk


Engineering Student Chosen for SAE Leadership Program Mike Neal, a junior mechanical engineering major from Shreve, Ohio, was one of the 24 students chosen by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International to participate in its fifth-annual Leadership Development Program. SAE International, a global association with more than 121,000 engineers and related technical experts, conducted the leadership program in January 2009 in conjunction with its Section Officers Leadership Seminar in Orlando, Fla. According to SAE, “The Leadership Development Program recognizes some of the most promising SAE student leaders – individuals who have exhibited outstanding leadership skills through SAE activities on campus.” Neal has been involved with SAE since his freshman year at ONU. He joined initially, he said, because of his interest in the Baja SAE Collegiate Design Series, in which teams design and build a small off-road car.

Students and Faculty Focus on

The students and faculty in the College of Engineering are engaged in a number of projects associated with alternative energy. As the nation embarks on an aggressive program to reduce the use of fossil fuels, Installation of wind anemometers on ONU radio tower

In order to be chosen for the Leadership Development Program, students had to be nominated by their advisors and fill out applications. Once selected, Neal and the other 23 participants attended workshops on developing network skills, understanding generational differences in the workplace, understanding differing leadership styles and reflecting upon one’s own leadership style. The goal of the program, according to a press release, is to further develop students’ skills so they can be applied to future leadership roles in SAE International and in students’ professional engineering careers. Neal found the experience both beneficial and enjoyable. “It provided me with the opportunity to meet engineering students from across the nation as well as professionals that work in the automotive industry,” he said. “All while enjoying Florida weather in January.”

colleges and universities from around the nation will be at the forefront of developing the technology required to bring energy independence and renewable fuels into reality. During the past year, Ohio Northern has been involved in alternative energy projects ranging from wind power to fuel cells. These projects not only provide opportunities to develop new technical solutions, but also represent tremendous learning opportunities for faculty and students alike. In one project, a team of senior electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering students is evaluating the feasibility of using wind

power on the ONU campus. The team is investigating several possible solutions, including the use of one or more mediumsized (approximately 100 kW) turbines, the use of one or more large (approximately 1.5 MW) turbines, or purchasing “green power” energy credits from American Electric Power (AEP). The project began in spring 2008 with the installation of anemometers to measure wind speeds on campus at heights up to 80 m. The students have also determined feasible sites on University-owned land, evaluated the load-bearing capacity of the local soil, specified the electrical systems necessary to connect large power sources to the campus grid and determined the technical specifications of suitable turbines. The engineering students are currently working with a team of ONU business students to develop a business plan to be presented to the University administration. During summer 2008, Dr. David Sawyers, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, spent seven weeks as a research associate at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo.

Solar water heating system (from

Sawyers worked with Dr. Jay Burch of the Buildings and Thermal Systems Center to develop numerical models of solar water heating systems. While solar water heating systems have become common in sunny southern states, efforts to substantially increase usage in cold weather states require significant reductions in system costs and improvements in reliability. One approach is to use a thermosiphon system, which relies on natural convection to circulate fluid through the solar collector. This removes the need for pumps and control systems, which are both expensive and prone to early failure. Current numerical models of thermosiphontype water heating systems work well for forward (daytime) flow, but encounter problems if the flow is allowed to reverse as a result of nighttime cooling. Sawyers worked with the NREL staff to better understand these problems in order to improve the performance of the numerical simulations for solar water heating systems. He also gained experience with software analysis tools that will be integrated into his upper-level engineering classes and used by students for undergraduate research projects. In January 2009, a collaborative team consisting of University and industry partners submitted a proposal to the state of Ohio’s Third Frontier Wright Projects program to build a multi-species algae bioreactor facility on Ohio Northern’s campus. ONU was supported on the proposal effort by Algae Venture Systems and Marathon Petroleum Company, who represent industries committed to the development and use

of renewable resources such as bioplastics and biodiesel fuels. Rhodes State College and the Edison Materials Technology Center (EMTEC) rounded out the proposal team. The proposed effort seeks to develop the technology required for a loosely controlled algae-growing system that will allow multiple algae species to thrive within the bioreactor environment. The resulting system will be based around algal communities that grow naturally within Ohio’s freshwater environments. It is expected that the growth

Algae bioreactor facility at Algae Venture Systems in Marysville, Ohio

and development of naturally occurring algae species within the bioreactor facility will result in a cost-effective solution to algae farming by achieving consistent algae harvest yields and by reducing the need for tight contamination control techniques and methodologies. The specific algae oil products that will be produced by the multi-species algae bioreactor facility will be evaluated for commercialization potential by Algae Venture Systems for use within

their various plastic packaging products, by Marathon Petroleum Company for use as a biodiesel product, and by EMTEC as a potential bio-based jet fuel product. Finally, in August 2008, a team of researchers and industry experts submitted a proposal titled “High-Speed Manufacturing of HighQuality, Low-Cost Bipolar Plates” to the United States Department of Energy. The primary objective of the proposed project is to gain significant economies of scale through the development and construction of a robust, reliable continuous line to manufacture and assemble together fuel cell components known as bipolar plates and membrane electrode assemblies. The project team consisted of Ohio Northern University, the Edison Materials Technology Center, and two industry partners: American Trim LLC and Crown Equipment Corporation. American Trim, a privately owned company with a long-standing history in the metal forming, coatings and decorative trim application areas, has built a vibrant research and development team focused on building for the company new product lines that drive down the cost of end-products for their customers. Crown Equipment Corporation is the largest electric lift truck manufacturer in the United States and is aggressively pursuing the integration of fuel cell power packs into their lift truck designs. Through this partnership, the institutions are committed to providing a technical solution that will radically change the cost structure for fuel cell manufacturing for the automotive and electric lift truck markets.

Smull Talk


Faculty Highlights Dr. Mohammad Khasawneh joined the civil engineering department as assistant professor and is primarily responsible for the instruction of the transportation engineering course sequence within the civil engineering curriculum. Khasawneh completed his Ph.D. degree at the University of Akron and conducted research in the area of modeling and analysis of pavement life issues. In 2007, Khasawneh received the Eisenhower Graduate Research Fellowship in Transportation Engineering from the Federal Highway Administration while he was a graduate student at the University of Akron. Khasawneh also received his MS degree in civil engineering from the University of Akron and the BS degree in civil engineering from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. The College of Engineering was pleased to hire Kenneth Reid as the college’s first director of freshman engineering. This new position focuses on leading the further development and administration of the freshman engineering course sequence. It is expected that improvements to this course sequence will assist with student retention and persistence within the College of Engineering. Reid recently completed his Ph.D. degree at Purdue University and is one of the first few individuals in the nation to receive a Ph.D. in engineering education. Reid’s specific research field isassociated with understanding the relationship between student attributes and retention and persistence in the field of engineering. He earned his BS degree in computer and electrical engineering at Purdue University and his MS degree in electrical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Reid taught for a number of years at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and also spent time working as an electrical engineer at the Naval Weapons Support Center in Indiana. The College of Engineering was also fortunate to hire Thomas Zechman, P.E., P.S., as a visiting instructor in civil engineering in the area of environmental engineering after Dr. Bruce Berdanier accepted a department chair position in the civil engineering department at South Dakota State University. Zechman received his BS degree in civil engineering from Southern Methodist University and his MS degree in civil engineering from the University of Dayton. He spent 25 years as the public works director for the city of Piqua, Ohio, and has previously served as an instructor at Edison State Community College in Piqua. Zechman is especially proud of his involvement in the $20 million renovation of the Fort Piqua Hotel, which brought a 1890s-era hotel back into service to the Piqua community as a public library, restaurant, coffee shop and conference center. Professor Dennis “Ben” Herr, BSEE ’73, will retire from Ohio Northern University at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. Herr first joined the ONU faculty in 1979 and has spent the last 30 years educating countless numbers of electrical and computer engineering students in the field of communications as well as signals and systems. Herr has been a tremendous asset to the college and the University, and we wish him well in his retirement. If you would like to send along your well wishes, feel free to contact Herr at

New Director of Development for the College of Engineering

Ohio Northern University has officially kicked off its comprehensive campaign, The Campaign for Ohio Northern University’s Tomorrow. This $100 million campaign officially began its public phase on Nov. 1, 2008, at which point it had already reached 67 percent of its ambitious goal. This is Ohio Northern’s largest campaign to date and encompasses four main priorities: increasing student aid, enriching faculty and academic programs, improving the living-learning environment, and strengthening The Northern Fund. Each priority of the campaign is vital to the continued growth and development of Ohio Northern. Increasing student aid is essential to bringing the brightest students to Northern from across the country and around the world. Enriching faculty and academic programs will bring brilliant, new faculty to Northern and help promote innovative opportunities both in and outside the classroom. Faculty-student research is a growing activity both within the College of Engineering and across the ONU campus. While Ohio Northern has already made tremendous improvements to our facilities, room for growth still exists. Additional funding is needed to renovate and expand the Biggs Engineering Building as well as for other projects across campus, such as the completion of the Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences and a new student center. In addition to all the exciting projects on campus, The Northern Fund is as vital as ever in supporting the day-to-day functions of the University. The continued success of the campaign is a result of the generous support from you, our alumni and friends. If you would like to participate in The Campaign for Ohio Northern University’s Tomorrow, please give at

Sarah Prasher, BSME ’05, has joined the staff as the director of development for the T.J. Smull College of Engineering. In this new role, Prasher is responsible for increasing alumni participation and support specifically for the College of Engineering. Prasher’s engineering background and great love for Ohio Northern make her a great addition to the college. After graduating from ONU, Prasher committed a year to traveling the country as a leadership consultant for Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and then worked as a production team advisor for Schreiber Foods Inc. in Missouri and Wisconsin. If you are interested in supporting the College of Engineering, Prasher can be contacted at 419-772-2648 or

Biggs Engineering building expansion project Since 1971, the Biggs Engineering Building has housed the T.J. Smull College of Engineering and has been the home-away-from-home for thousands of engineering and computer science students. The Biggs Engineering Building and the adjoining Science Annex provide space for faculty and administrative offices, classrooms to instruct the college’s students, and a number of quality laboratories that enhance the classroom experience. In addition, the college’s facilities include senior capstone design studios and offices, computer

labs, a machine shop, a small project assembly area, and the Marathon Petroleum Engineerin-Residence office. All of the college’s facilities are fully utilized throughout the year and, at certain times, are significantly stressed. In December 2008, the College of Engineering embarked on a conceptual study to develop an expansion to the Biggs Engineering Building that would meet the college’s current and future space needs. Architects from BHDP Architecture in Columbus, Ohio, assisted

the College of Engineering with this study. The 15,000-square-foot building expansion will provide for a new prominent entrance on the southeast corner of the existing building, project workspace for all students in the college, additional faculty offices and dedicated research areas, and high-bay space for the college’s design competition projects, which include the Concrete Canoe and the Baja SAE off-road vehicle competition.

Smull Talk




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T.J. Smull College of Engineering 525 S. Main St. Ada, Ohio 45810


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Northern Commitment

Annual Support for The Northern Fund and the T. J. Smull College of Engineering This program has made me a well-rounded student. My professors aren’t just focusing on making sure I can write a program or build a circuit. They’re building my confidence. They’re connecting me with a huge alumni network. They’re letting me know about opportunities and sending me to career fairs. I know I’ll be ready to go out and market myself to many different employers. Melissa Else Major: Computer engineering Minor: Spanish

Ohio Northern University is proud of the generous donors who make a lasting difference in the continued success of our students. Your annual support goes to work immediately for student scholarships, research, cultural opportunities and campus improvements. Please continue to aid our students with your True Northern Commitment. Support the College of Engineering by giving online: Smull Talk


College of Engineering 525 S. Main St. Ada, Ohio 45810

College of Engineering 525 South Main Street Ada, Ohio 45810

Smull Talk May 2009  

The magazine of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern University.